So, Mary Anne, I'll be emailing you shortly to get your mailing address.
Thanks everyone for playing! Stay tuned for the next Q&A with Bari J. Ackerman--coming shortly!
Thanks everyone for participating! I hope you enjoyed the Q&A with Jennifer Worick (thanks again, Jen, for doing this with me!). I plugged in the numbers at Random.org, and . . .
The winner is Mary Anne, who said: "Great interview - although I'm not planning on writing a book, it was interesting to read some of what goes into getting one published. Thank you for an opportunity to win what looks to be a great book!"
So, Mary Anne, I'll be emailing you shortly to get your mailing address.
Thanks everyone for playing! Stay tuned for the next Q&A with Bari J. Ackerman--coming shortly!
I’ve have career envy of Jennifer Worick for quite some time! A friend recommended that I get in touch with her five or six years ago because we had similar writing interests. When I clicked over to her site, I was super impressed. She’d written all of these books about interesting topics, and I was a bit in awe. Fast forward to last year, when we got the chance to meet at the CHA Supershow in Chicago. I learned that we had the same publisher (Voyageur) and the same agent. I also realized how smart she was about this whole book business. When I saw that she had started to offer book proposal writing classes, I knew that she would be the perfect Q&A for my blog. She’s written 25 books, including her latest, Simple Gifts: 50 little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook, & Knit (which one lucky reader will win!). Jen is full of great ideas and great advice. Here, she shares some tips for writing your book proposal and marketing yourself.
To enter the giveaway to win a copy of Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook, & Knit leave a comment here by Tuesday, May 31 at noon EST.
Q: First, tell me about the workshops you've been teaching!
Worick: My pal, Kerry Colburn, and I have been asked many, many times for publishing advice. She’s an author who was an executive editor at Chronicle Books and I’m an author who was editorial director at Running Press. So we’ve been on both sides of reviewing and writing book proposals and it seemed like a natural next step to share our insight to groups of aspiring authors. So we give talks and workshops to help folks write salable proposals and learn about the publishing industry. We currently offer events in Seattle but are looking at creating e-courses and electronic multi-media kits, as well as hosting events in different cities, in the next few months.
Q: How do craft book proposals differ from other book proposals?
Worick: Craft books, in some respects, are like cookbooks. Any sort of how-to book proposal needs to take into account that the projects will need tech editing and review for clarity and viability of projects. I think it’s helpful to include a complete list of the projects you’d plan to include, as well as step-out snapshots of a couple of projects (photos that match each step in the project).
There are a lot of craft books on the market so it’s also important to think about how your group of projects thematically hang together and are different from what’s already on the market. Are they all projects made for pets? Do they all have a floral motif? Are they all variations on a technique?
Q: How does an author make their proposal stand out from the field (either craft book proposal, or other non-fiction), and then how do you make your marketing efforts (to sell the published book) stand out from the field--especially in the craft world, which is starting to feel sort of saturated?
Worick: What Kerry and I advise in our Business of Books talks is that you first start in researching, not just your idea, but the market as well. It’s important to refine your idea based on what you see in the marketplace (both in the bookstore and online). If someone can get hundreds of free shawl patterns online to knit, what is going to make her shell out money for yours? What makes them so special? Do they all have intarsia designs that you’ve spent a long time figuring out? If there is something out there similar to yours, don’t despair. Just spend some time thinking about how to make yours more original and distinctive.
When it comes to marketing, there is a active online community for crafters so I’d recommend contributing to websites, commenting on other blogs, and writing your own blog. You’ll build up a community that can help evangelize your book when it comes out.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about doing a craft book proposal today (versus a few years ago)?
Worick: As you said, there is a lot of saturation in the market and it’s a tricky thing to find a great, specific idea that’s not TOO niche. Crafters are eager for the next thing to expand their skill set and blow their mind creatively, so if you can keep that in mind when developing your idea, you’ll strengthen its chances of being published. I wrote Backcountry Betty: Crafting in Style because I saw a desire to repurpose materials, incorporate natural elements you may have collected in a new way, and create inexpensive but clever projects.
Q: What is the most exciting thing about doing a craft book proposal today?
Worick: Well, for me, it’s two things: refining the overall concept and then brainstorming the individual projects. I don’t usually have all the projects figured out when I first develop a proposal. The creativity starts flowing and my ideas get more and more brilliant as I push myself to come up with fresh projects.
Q: Do you have like a top 3 list of the absolute best tips for pulling together your proposal (any proposal--craft or otherwise)?
Worick: Well, we have eight elements of a proposal that we talk about in our talks. But as far as tips:
1. Do your homework. Research and refine your idea.
2. You don’t have to write the book to sell the book.
3. Have a trusted friend review your proposal, maybe even a non-crafter. It’s important that you don’t assume anything and that your directions make sense. And sometimes as the author, you can’t see what’s missing or unclear.
Q: How important is negotiating with the publisher? This is foreign territory for many craft book authors, who are used to dealing with customers or running a business, but not necessarily negotiating rights and things for a manuscript.
Worick: It’s often hard to advocate for ourselves when we are negotiating a book deal. But that said, there are all sorts of points that have some wiggle room. If they won’t budge on royalty, then ask for a bigger advance or a “production grant” (a fee that you can use for materials or project development that won’t be part of your royalty). You can also ask for an escalator, where your royalty will increase when you hit a certain number of sales (say 15,000 units). And know all your options, what your bottom line is, and explore self-publishing options so you can see what might make sense for you. If you want all the control, have a large online community, and want to get your book to market quickly, self-publishing an e-book might be the way to go.
Q: Finally, can you talk about why it's important to build relationships with people--agents, publishers, press people, other authors/bloggers, etc--in order to really be successful in the bookselling business?
Worick: I think anything you can do to increase your knowledge of the publishing industry will help you in your quest to get published. Reading Shelf Awareness or subscribing to Publishers Marketplace can also help give you an idea of what deals are being made, what issues are of greatest concern to the industry, that sort of thing. You will become savvier and have a better idea of how to position yourself as the author and market your book effectively. Talk to your local bookstore staff, develop relationships with your crafting community and shops (again, both online and brick-and-mortar stores). As you build relationships and credibility, you increase your ability to market your book. You are probably already doing this naturally, because it’s where your interest lies. Just bring some mindfulness and purpose to your efforts and you’ll quickly become a desirable and marketable author.
Quick addition to this post: 365 Days of Sewing is now running a giveaway of Sew Retro! Go here to enter the contest and read an interview with me.
Anyway, back to the original post . . .
Max’s toddler program wrapped up last week, and now he is off to summer camp (at the same school) this week. It’s just three days a week from 9 – 12, but any chance we have to get the kid outside and running around is welcome. He goes for two other weeks during the summer. Not enough, as far as I’m concerned. But my checkbook had the final say.
Since the camp includes packing a lunch for the kiddos, I figured it was time that Max had his own lunch bag.
So of course, it seemed brilliant to embroider his name right on it so there’s no worry about mixing up lunch bags!
I also wanted to try the reverse applique technique on a small scale. I used a pattern from 100 Applique Motifs, but did the more traditional method of reverse applique—where you stitch on the backside of the fabric you want to show, and then flip it over and cut very close to the stitching on the fabric that’s in front of the motif. I’ve dabbled in this, but never done a project using this method. I love it, because it feels a little magical, like a slow unveiling of something. I used craft felt since I wanted a clean edge versus the frayed look I often gravitate toward.
It’s a super simple shape: I just cut front and back pieces, and then front and back lining pieces, at about 9 inches by 12 inches. I sewed up the sides and bottom of bag and lining, and made about a 1.25-inch gusset in each. I used the method where you insert the lining (turned right-side out) into the bag (turned wrong-side out, so right sides are together) and then sandwiched the handles in the seam. Then I sewed the top edges together, leaving about a 3-inch opening at the top for turning. Finishing is quick: Turn it, press it, slip-stitch the opening closed, top-stitch (if you want), and add a snap fastener (or sew on a snap or use Velcro). However, I realize now that I should have made the handles shorter (so the bag isn’t dragging the ground if he carries it).
I would love to see a dozen or so two- and three-year olds sitting around a table, pulling out goodies from their lunch bags and eating lunch. Actually, I’m 100 percent sure that I wouldn’t be able to handle such a scene. But I am thankful that there are wonderful summer camp teachers out there who are excellent at wrangling children and their yogurt-smeared faces and sticky hands.
Yay for homemade lunch bags, wonderful teachers, and summer treats!
I had a great time at the Springfield Antique Show Extravaganza today! This was my third consecutive year, and I think it gets better every year! According to the show's blog, they had record attendance on Friday, and today, they had the best attendance they've had in 10 years. The word is out that this is the best show in the Midwest!
My sister Laura and I now make Springfield a yearly ritual, and this year, my husband joined us, and we brought Georgia. We saw a sign that said 3,300 dealers, and that sounds about right. The show is HUGE--impossibly huge. I'm sure we only saw about 1/3 of it (it's hard to move fast with a baby).
I'm trying to be more restrained in my acquiring of things (our house is small!), so I thought about what I really wanted to buy. In the end, I only had a few specific I was looking for, including nice wood toys for Max. This great wooden tractor ($12) turned out to be the perfect find (he's already played with it this evening!)
Speaking of toys, I wanted this play house SO BAD, because I had this exact one when I was little. I almost got it, but it didn't have the people and furniture that come with it. And I realized that even though I loved it, my kids might think it was stupid. So I passed. But I'm still thinking about it . . .
Springfield is known for being a great place to shop for vintage fabric, feedsacks, linens, pattern, and notions. I didn't see as much this year, but I think it's because I didn't cover as much ground. Still, plenty of great retro finds . . .
I think my favorite purchase of the day was a spoon ring. Laura reminded me that our Grandma Ketteler wore a spoon ring, and I suddenly had a memory of that spoon ring clanking against the side of the whiskey glass (Grandma always had one shot of whiskey in a glass with ice when she came on Friday nights). I don't have a picture of me wearing mine yet, but it's in here!
As always, there was some great furniture there. Allen and I bought one small mid-century chair. But mostly, I just browsed.
The two things I wish I would have had a reason to buy: these chandeliers, and these dishes!
But looking gives me great ideas and inspiration--and that's free (and doesn't clutter up your house). So, even though I only bought a few things, it was still a great year at Springfield!
You can make this. Cool, huh? Yesterday, my husband and I took the kids the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. We've never been with the kids, and I don't think I've been in at least 10 years. It was sort of rainy, but it actually turned out pretty nice (kept the crowds away). So, not only did we get to see elephants and tigers and snakes and giraffes and flamingos and a bunch of other awesome animals, we also got to stroll through the Zoo's beautiful gardens. This piece in one of the "green garden" areas caught my eye because it's made entirely from trash! Who knew trash could be so lovely?
Here are a few animal shots just because they're cute. I can't believe they let that one with the orange striped shirt and umbrella out of its cage. It's quite wild.
I've been glancing at various blogs and Facebook posts about Quilt Market, held this past week in Salt Lake City. But I can't wait to dig in tomorrow and read a bunch of wrap ups and see inspiring pictures. I'm debating going to Houston for the fall market to cover it. I really want to see what all the hubbub is about firsthand, but I have to figure out if it makes any business sense go to.
As for what's up on this blog next, I've got two Q&As in the works, both with fabulous giveaways. Also, you can check out an interview I did with Stephanie over at 365 Days of Sewing. She'll also be giving away a copy of Sew Retro. It should be up in a few weeks. I've barely sewn anything in the last month or so because of other deadlines, but I'm working on something for Quilts & More, and I've got a bunch of summer projects it the pipeline (my own designs, and bunches from the many books on my sewing shelf).
Here's to a productive week!
It’s always that damn office chair.
It's become the place where I get bad news, which usually comes from my sister, Laura.
It’s the chair where I was sitting a year-and-a-half ago when she called to tell me that our brother, Paul, died. And it’s the chair I was sitting in last Tuesday when she called to tell me that our Uncle Red (a.k.a George Meinhardt—nicknamed “Red” for his hair) had died suddenly. At 72, he died of a massive heart attack. One minute he was here, vibrant, probably cracking a joke. And the next minute, almost literally, he was gone. No warning. No preparation. No logic.
His obituary talks about his professional accomplishments (which were many) and his devotion to his family (which I witnessed firsthand for years).
But I want to add my own tribute, and the best way I can do that is to write something about how he affected my life. I hope it provides comfort to his family and friends (when you lose a loved one, you never get tired of hearing the ways in which they affected other people). But even if you didn’t know him, stick with me here, because it will all come back around to you.
So, a few facts . . . My Aunt Mary (my dad’s younger sister) and Uncle Red married young, and had children quickly. They lived with my grandmother for the first few years of their marriage.
Now, we’d say those are bad odds.
50+ years of happy marriage would seem to suggest they kicked the odds to the curb.
My parents were growing their family at the same time as the Meinhardts were growing theirs. In fact, the Kettelers and the Meinhardts each have seven children, with kids that roughly line up, age-wise. I’m the youngest Ketteler, and I’ve been friends with their youngest—my cousin Molly—since I was old enough to know what a friend was. Our families parallel each other in many ways, like a huge oak, with limbs that twist and intertwine. We’ve each had marriages and divorces, heaps of grandchildren, and terrible sadness. The Meinhardts lost a brother (Danny) and we lost a brother (Paul), though under much different circumstances. My brother, Paul, lost his baby girl, Jessica, just before delivery; my cousin, Mark, lost his baby girl, Sophie, at 18 mos. old. We’re losing our dad slowly to Alzheimer’s, which breaks our hearts a little every day. And now, they’ve lost their dad in one sweeping, heartbreaking moment.
As a kid, Aunt Mary and Uncle Red were the most chic people I knew. I spent a lot of summer weekends at their house when I was little, visiting with Molly. These weekends usually culminated in Molly and me performing some sort of “show,” which our parents were forced to sit through (most definitely with beer in hand). I loved everything about the energy of the Meinhardts’ house. It was big and beautiful, but it had soul, too. I’d sit on their patio, listening to all of them talk. Uncle Red told stories like no one else I knew. He had the kind of wit that’s warm and funny, and he never talked down to me. Growing up, I saw that he was a brilliant people person. He knew how to talk to people and connect to them. It’s no surprise that he built a successful real estate business out of practically nothing. Truthfully, his story of hard-earned success never stopped being an inspiring example for me, especially as I started to build my writing business.
In fact, Uncle Red was one of my biggest champions. He loved that I was a writer, and that I was following my bliss. I got the chance to work on a project for him once, and I saw how much the people he managed loved and respected him. At every family gathering, he would tell me his latest "brilliant" book or article idea. We’d laugh about it, but honestly, in the back of my mind, I thought maybe we would collaborate on something someday.
I've had many great conversations with Uncle Red through the years, but the memory of him I cherish the most is a recent one. The November day in 2009 when my sisters and I ran our marathon in memory of Paul, he and my Aunt Mary showed up at mile 19. He was holding this silly sign he made from the back of a box and a stick. It was such a simple thing: showing up. But on that day, it meant everything.
Almost exactly one year later, an essay I’d written about Paul and the marathon was published in Whole Living. Upon reading it, Uncle Red sent me a heartfelt, soul-searching email that I could tell he struggled to write. My essay touched him, he said, because it said much of what he had such a hard time expressing, even to his own family. He’d lost his father at a young age, and always regretted that his father didn’t get to meet his grandkids. He’d also lost a sister, who struggled with depression and died much too young. And, of course, he’d lost Danny and Sophie, a crushing double-whammy. “Everyone has been given different talents and challenges,” he wrote. “Some enjoy long wonderful lives and others are cut very short.” Why were some people so self-destructive (like my brother, Paul—something that broke my uncle’s heart to witness), and why couldn’t we reach them? Why did some people have to lose so much? Why was suffering so unevenly distributed? And after having buried a son and a granddaughter, why was he still around and healthy, he wondered?
These questions haunted me this weekend as I watched my Aunt Mary and my Meinhardt cousins bury my uncle. I know that religious faith helps many people figure out answers, and I'm grateful that it provides comfort to people. But I don’t have the faith, and I definitely don't have the answers. I do, however, know that if I live long enough, I have a lot of loss ahead of me. I need something, so here is what I think:
I think that when a person dies, everything that was good about them—all of the positive energy and love they generated—gets recycled back into the world. We can access it by thinking about the person. We can add to it by channeling them.
So I’m channeling you, Uncle Red, and the things that I think you stood for: family first, love what you do, love who you are, be kind, make success happen, be a leader, find ways to give back, and maybe more than anything . . . just show up when you need to show up.
Peace out, Uncle Red. You’ll never be forgotten.
I’ve been dreaming of the day that Max could play in my office/sewing room while I worked on projects. But it’s a room full of pins and scissors and computer wires and files and things that are generally not toddler-friendly. So although I’m always desperate to catch up on projects on the weekends, my sewing time is pretty limited during his waking hours, unless I sneak upstairs for a little while my husband watches him.
I should backtrack and say that Max loves anything to do with fabric, and is always desperate to get into my office. I often let him rifle through the scrap basket for a few minutes, hunting for a new treasure to add to his scrap pile. He loves to “help” me sew when I bring handwork downstairs into the kid-friendly space. This past Sunday morning, when I told my husband I was going upstairs for a few minutes to sew, Max grabbed his pile of fabric and ran up the steps after me. “I want to sew with you!” he cried.
He promised me that he would follow my three rules: (1) no pulling fabric or books off the shelves, (2) no grabbing pins or scissors, (3) no grabbing computer cords or wires. I figured I’d give it a try. And you know what, it was pretty great! He had a ball with scraps and “making” a quilt. He actually followed all my rules (for the most part—I did have to remind him 1 or 2 or 14 times). Look at the beautiful pile he created! He was very proud.
While he made his "quilt," I managed to start working on some pretty bibs for Georgia—a simple project that’s been on my to-do list forever, but I can’t ever seem to get around to. She gets stuck wearing her brother’s cast-off blue bibs with baseballs and dinosaurs. Of course, girls can love baseballs and dinosaurs too, but pretty girl bibs match her pretty girl outfits so much better!
Altogether, I made four (three pictured here, and the one she’s wearing below). I created the pattern from an existing favorite bib (just the right size and shape for maximum drooling coverage, and not too tight around the neck). You can probably just look at it and figure out the directions yourself (super basic--a great "first" sewing project for a new sewing mama), but I created a quick bonus project here, with directions and a template you can download. I love that you can make the bib very simple (just a cotton print backed with terry cloth), or you can do fun appliques, which is what I decide to do on a few of them. You can also piece them. I just did two pieces. But you could sew small squares together and create an entirely patchworked bib!
I still don’t know that I’ll bring Max up here if I have a project that requires extreme concentration (or ironing, since I definitely don’t trust him anywhere near a hot iron), but it’s good to know that my boy and I can hang out a little bit up here and each do our thing.